By now, you’ve probably read about the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Clean Power Plan,” and maybe even what it will mean for consumers, businesses, and anyone else who uses electricity in their daily life.
The switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation could harm power reliability in Ohio and surrounding states, according to the group that manages the transmission grid for the 13-state region.
PJM Interconnection said in a new white paper that the “rapid transition” as more utilities retire coal plants and turn to domestic shale gas causes concern about the reliability of the region’s generation fleet.
As discussed in a previous post, CCS is likely to play a very important role if climate science is eventually proven correct and long-term atmospheric CO2 concentration levels of ~450 ppm are confirmed as a top global priority. The possible role of CCS retrofits to the very young fleet of fossil-fueled industry currently being built in the developing world was discussed as a medium-term possibility in the case where CO2 prices rise very rapidly in the next decade.
In the previous two parts of this series (1, 2), we discussed why CCS is likely to do very well in a future climate constrained world and how CCS might behave in a policy environment of rapid reactive decarbonization through a high and rising CO2 price. In this third installment, we will take a look at the primary reason why we need CCS in the first place: coal.
It is important to re-emphasize right at the start of this article that CCS is only a viable option if climate change is a very important factor. If it eventually turns out that long-term CO2 concentrations of 850 ppm are perfectly fine, we can drop all CCS research right now. If 650 ppm is acceptable, I would be satisfied with the current rate of progress. However, if 450 ppm indeed remains a priority, the role of CCS will probably expand dramatically over coming decades.
According to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, “Climate change harms the poor first and worst.” This is true, because the poor are the most vulnerable and have the least resources with which to adapt. But we often forget that current policies to address global warming make energy much more costly, and that this harms the world’s poor much more.